A MILITARY officer told a military court in Northeast Khon Kaen province on Wednesday that holding a banner with a message against the coup d’etat – as student activists led by Jatupat Boonpattararaksa did in May 2015 – was an act of “destroying democracy”.
Testifying as a witness against Jatupat and six other students, Captain Apinan Wanpetch, who arrested the activists, said the 2014 coup to scrap the 2007 constitution and topple the elected civilian government was an admirable mission.
“There is no reason to oppose the coup. Although holding a banner against the coup is freedom of expression, the act is destroying democracy, therefore they deserve arrest and attitude adjustment,” he told the court. A military prosecutor yesterday sought a ruling that Jatupat, also known as Pai Dao Din, serve his full time in jail if he is convicted, and not have the jail time included in the sentence he is already serving for lese majeste.
Jatupat and six other student activists were charged with breaching the National Council for Peace and Order’s ban on political gatherings of five or more people on May 22, 2015 – the first anniversary of the coup -– when they held banners with messages against the coup.
The ban carries the punishment of up to one-year imprisonment and a fine of up to Bt20,000.
The prosecutor yesterday sought permission from the military court in Khon Kaen to amend the indictment, asking the court to hand down a prison sentence on top of the term Jatupat is serving for the royal defamation charge.
Court defers decision
The defendant’s lawyer, however, objected to the request. The court deferred the amendment, according to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights group.
Earlier this month, Jatupat was sentenced to two years and six months in prison for lese majeste after sharing a BBC article.
The activist is also facing other charges as a consequence of his activism against the military junta. Among them are charges of sedition and violation of a political ban, which are ongoing in courts.